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NUTRITION TIPS AND TRENDS

Posted March 2017

MINIMAL COOK MEAL IDEAS

Do you EVER feel too tired to cook? We all have these days- not feeling well, running late, or tired. Well I have you covered with my favorite minimal cook meals. These ideas are healthy, taste great, and focus on whole food ingredients so you don't have to compromise nutrition. 

1.       Scrambled eggs + fresh fruit and veggie sticks. Scrambled eggs on the stove or for even less mess cook your egg in the microwave, serve with baby carrots and fruit of your choice.

2.       Steamable sides – Microwave friendly steamer bags are a lifesaver. I stock my freezer with a variety of steamable vegetables, brown rice, and edamame.  Pair the vegetable of our choice with the brown rice for a whole grain and edamame for protein and your have the perfect microwavable meal without the preservatives found in many frozen dinners. 

3.       Classic peanut butter and Jelly or Almond butter with honey (or some combo of the two). Serves perfect with fresh fruit, precut veggies, and a glass of low fat milk or milk alternative. If you are out of bread combine 1 tbsp. peanut butter, 2 tsp jelly or honey, 1/2 cup oats, and 1 cup of milk. Microwave to desired consistency for a fun oatmeal. 

4.       Omelet – Back to eggs –toss in whatever veggies you in the fridge and top with 2 tbsp. low fat cheese.  Serve with a side of fruit and or a slice of whole wheat toast

5.       Microwave baked sweet potato topped with 2 tsps. butter and sprinkled cinnamon. Served with a side of Greek yogurt.

 

Trans Fats

Trans fats have been a hot topic in nutrition for the past years due to their concern for negative health outcomes. They have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease which lead to the decision in 2006 for the FDA to require trans fats to be listed on the food label.  To further solidify their poor health impact the FDA consequently determined partially hydrogenated oils were no longer “generally recognized as safe” (1). While you would think this would be the end for trans fats, it will take years before they are officially removed from all foods.  So while we wait for this it is important to know how to identify them in foods.  You would think since labels must identify foods with trans fat on the food label this would make the process very easy, however there is a bit more investigating that must be done. Foods that contain less than 0.5 grams of fats can be listed as zero grams trans fats on the nutrition label when they are truly not free of trans fat. While you are probably thinking well if its less than 0.5 grams trans fats why should I worry??? Unfortunately these “hidden” trans fats are commonly found in a variety of common household foods such as peanut butter, biscuits, granola bars, frozen meals, frosting, and cookies. It is easy to see how if you are consuming these foods daily that minimal amounts of trans fat can start to add up to more significant amounts. So to combat this problem- take a quick peak at the ingredients. A key word to identify foods with “hidden” trans fats is partially hydrogenated oils.  Remember food labels list ingredients in order of abundance in the product, so while its ideal the product not contain these oils at all the higher the ingredient list the worse it is in regards to trans fats. Just another reason to try to focus your food choices on as many fresh foods as possible and leave those processed items for the few and far between.  

Take Home Tip: We LOVE peanut butter in our house. So i was so sad to find out most of the popular peanut butter brands had partially hydrogenated oils! Remember peanut butter should not contain hydrogenated oils or sugar, as silly as this sounds they should contain one ingredient - Peanuts. We really like the Central Market Smooth Peanut butter, but there are many brands to choose from. It’s a simple switch to move toward a partially hydrogenated oil free house!

Reference: 1. www.fda.gov

Sugar Snap Peas

Sugar snap peas are a great way to boost your vegetable intake.  They are low in calories (30 calories per cup, 2 g protein, 2 grams sugar, 2 grams fiber, 0 grams of fat) and are a good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin K.  They are a staple in my freezer and are great to eat on their own, use as a side dish, or add extra crunch to a stir fry or salads.  Kids love to “shoot” the peas out of the pod for a tasty snack that is interactive and delicious.  I enjoy the naturally sweet flavor of the sugar snap pea but you can also spice things up with seasonings of your choice.  Below is a simple mid afternoon snack idea for you to enjoy!

Snack: 1 cup sugar snap peas in pod, 1 low fat string cheese, and 6 Triscuit crackers. Provides: ~210 kcal, ~10 g protein, ~5 g fiber.  

CHOLESTEROL

Cholesterol Keys- Increase intake of fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, and nuts.

High cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. If you have been told you have high cholesterol or are at risk for cardiovascular disease here are some simple steps to help lower your cholesterol level, more specifically your LDL cholesterol the “bad” cholesterol. Some simple steps

a.       Eat more fiber-Among the other health benefits of a high fiber diet, soluble fiber can help lower cholesterol.  Soluble fiber can be found in a variety of foods such as oats, beans, lentils, barley and apples. Remember adults need 25-38 grams of fiber.

b.       Increase intake of Omega 3 Fatty acids – The best sources of omega 3 fatty acids are in fatty fish (mackerel, albacore tuna, salmon). If you have a fish allergy there are also plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids such as flaxseed or walnuts, however these are not as abundant sources.

c.        Go Nuts- Consistent intake of nuts can also be beneficial in lowering LDL cholesterol. Almonds are a great mid day snack or try sprinkling walnuts on oatmeal.

Posted 9/17/16